–by Gail Bishop
PUBLICATION DATE: Jan 04, 2021
“She has always had a fairly complicated relationship with the truth, my wife.” Well … it turns out having a fairly complicated relationship with the truth makes Emmy an extremely successful “Instamum” with millions of followers and plenty of free stuff and an income that ensures her once successful writer husband no longer feels pressure to write the next best seller (which is convenient because it turns out becoming a mundane husband and father of two does not lend itself to exciting plot lines).
The novel details Emmy’s rise to Instagram stardom but begins with a few influencer missteps. It turns out millions of people are not interested in shoes and people actually despise you when you post pictures of your perfect house, your adorable, well-behaved children, your Lululemon clad perfect postpartum body and your handsome, adoring husband. Who knew? Soon, however, Emmy discovers the perfectly imperfect brand: Mamabare is an influencer who is not perfect, making her extremely relatable. But there is one problem – Emmy’s life is pretty easy. Her children are great sleepers and with plenty of rest, it seems being a mom to two just isn’t that harrowing. Consequently, it takes a lot of work to create the right level of chaos. “Dirty isn’t aspirational and perfect isn’t relatable. And Mamabare is nothing if not relatable.” A top agent to influencers is employed and Emmy’s success is assured. “My agent’s view of female friendship is that if you’ve got something nice to say about someone, say it under an Instagram post where everyone can see it.”
The story is told through three different perspectives, one of which appears to be a potential murderer but somehow Emmy is the least likable of all. Emmy’s sections give inside information on how influencers grow their follower base leading to monetary reward. Apparently, “honesty” is the most important trait. After describing a particularly messy attempt to get out of the house while “sleep-deprived,” Emmy says, “It certainly could have happened, so it’s useful if there’s a small grain of truth in my posts.” Another indicator of a successful influencer is “interaction” with followers. That’s why influencers often end a post with a question. The question for this particular post was: What was your own most sleep deprived mom moment? 687 comments and 442 direct messages later and an influencer is born as she photographs herself with “a face full of no-makeup makeup” and mismatched shoes.
Dan – the handsome adoring husband in the picture – has a few reservations. “Have we, by putting our lives and our children’s lives out there on the internet for all to see, done something monumentally foolish?” Having finished the book, I can answer that question for you Dan – YES! YES IT IS FOOLISH! Especially when your wife, in her attempt to gain more followers, answers every question her fans pose. It turns out dispensing parenting advice as if you are professional when you are in fact a caricature can result in some pretty devastating consequences and these consequences come back to haunt Emmy and her perfectly imperfect family in a terrifying way.
I am always looking for a great psychological thriller but usually I’m disappointed by the increasingly absurd twists and turns as the book runs out of steam. I read this book in a day and half and I was mesmerized until the exciting conclusion. This is serious subject matter but the author has a wry wit. For instance, one influencer’s niche is maternal incontinence. “I suspect by the time she got around to trying to identify a maternal taboo to bust, all the good ones had already been taken.” (like breast feeding in public)
You can read this novel in one sitting but you might want a cocktail to sustain you. I would suggest one called Dangerous Libations from the book of literary cocktails, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita by Tim Ferdele.
Combine 1 ounce crème de cassis, 1 ounce lemon juice, and one teaspoon activated charcoal for color (optional) and shake for 5 seconds. Strain and top with 4 ounces of Champagne. Enjoy while scrolling (and of course, reading)